Cooking With Charl

Amateur home cook, with a love for baking and all things garlic :)

The Garlic Farm, Isle of Wight (my favourite place in the world!)

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As today is national garlic day i thought it would be the perfect time for me to tell you about my favourite place in the world, The Garlic Farm, Isle of Wight.

The Isle of Wight is somewhere that me and my boyfriend have visited for the last 5-6 years and we love it there! The views, the beaches, the villages and most importantly the food!!

As we all know i love everything about food, cooking and eating! but a food that i have always loved in large amounts is Garlic! I could quite happily live on good quality freshly baked garlic bread for the rest of my life :). As you can imagine as soon as I found out about the Garlic Farm on our first visit to the Island I just had to go there and see what they had to offer. The first time we went there it was quite different to what it is now, it was a rather basic farm shop but I fell in love with it non the less, with the smell of garlic in the air, witty garlic related signs hanging everywhere and bulbs as far as the eye could see. Right at the back of the shop there was a tasting table full of their homemade chutneys and relishes much to my delight :). It was on this visit I was first introduced to elephant garlic which now is one of my favourite things to eat just simply roasted with some good toasted bread mmmmm amazing! I asked a lot of questions when i was there about the different varities of garlic and how to grow garlic and the shop assistants are always very friendly and full of knowledge, its so lovely to see staff really care about what they are selling.

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fresh green garlic, solent wight bulbs, scapes and elephant garlic

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me with my oil of wight, isle of wight flour and garlic farm grinder refill 🙂

A brief history of The Garlic Farm

The Garlic man himself is Colin Boswell who moved to the island with his parents in the late 50’s. Mersley Farm (where the Garlic Farm is situated) was acquired by the Boswell family and was originally used for cash crops such as sweetcorn which took off in the 60’s and 70’s becoming the UK’s largest sweetcorn producers. As the farm got bigger they needed to expand their crops and decided to start growing garlic after Colins mom, Nora grew some lovely bulbs in their own garden. Colin began to study all aspects of garlic travelling to California and France to further his studies. By 1979 they managed to break into mainstream supermarkets such as Tesco, Sainsburys and Marks and Spencer. Through the 80’s and 90’s Garlic became loved by many across the UK and demand for colins garlic grew. By 1999 they returned to where they started selling to farmers markets across the UK, getting back to their roots. After many Tv appearences by the Garlic farm their popularity grew and they are now the Uk’s largest specialist garlic growers.

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As I mentioned before, The Garlic Farm is quite different today, it has expanded dramatically since my first visit, they now have an even bigger farm shop, tasting centre, cooking demos, growing information, tractor tours and a fantastic restaurant.

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The farm shop now has an even bigger selection of goodies from garlic bulbs to garlic gadgets and fantastic selections of homemade garlicky products. It is most definitely the place to go if ever you visit the Isle of Wight, but to be honest id say The Garlic Farm is worth the ferry ride all by itself! And remember if ever you buy garlic with ‘wight’ in the title you can thank the Garlic Farm for your amazing garlic!

The Garlic Farm Website

The Garlic Farm Facebook

The Garlic Farm Twitter

Why not stay at The Garlic Farm on your visit to the island?

Mersley Farm Holidays

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Chocolate orange hot cross buns (with orange glaze)

Easter is the one time in the year when you can get away with having chocolate with everything! Why should hot cross buns be any different?

As an avid fan of the great British bake off, of course I was going to watch the Easter special to see if I could get some seasonal inspiration. All of the recipes were fantastic as always but Paul hollywood’s hot cross bun recipe really caught my eye as I have never worked with an enriched dough before, so I took on the challenge.

Only problem is, I’m not too keen on hot cross buns, and my boyfriend hates dried fruit, so I came up with the idea if switching fruit for the just as healthy chocolate!!! (Because what’s Easter without chocolate?)

As I still wanted my buns to have great flavour I used orange zest and made a glazing syrup with the fruit as traditionally they are glazed with an apricot jam.

I hope this recipe inspires you to get creative and tamper with recipes to your liking.

(Makes 12)

INGREDIENTS

500g strong bread flour (+a little extra for the cross)
50g soft butter
75g caster sugar
1 egg
7g fast action yeast
1tsp cinnamon
1tsp salt
300ml warm milk
250g dark (or milk) chocolate
1 large orange
4 tbsp sugar

METHOD

Warm milk in the microwave or in a pan and set aside. Place the chocolate in a bag and smash into small chunks with a rolling pin. Grate the zest from the orange with a fine grater.

Sieve the flour into a bowl, add the sugar, salt, egg, cinnamon and cubed softened butter to one side and add the yeast to the opposite side of the bowl, ensuring the salt and yeast do not come in contact with each other.

Roughly mix the ingredients together and slowly add the milk, you may not need to use all of the milk, just enough to make a sticky soft dough.

When well mixed add the orange zest and chocolate chunks to the mix, knead the dough in the bowl slightly just to combine the chocolate and orange. Add more milk if needed.

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Tip the dough out on to a floured surface and knead the dough for around 10 mins, pulling and stretching the dough until it becomes smooth.

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Dust the mixing bowl with flour and place the dough inside and cover tightly with cling film. Place the dough in a warm place to prove for 1-2 hours until doubled in size. ( this may take slightly longer as the chocolate weighs the dough down considerably)

Slice the white pith from the orange in a downwards motion on a board, then when all the flesh of the orange is exposed, slice the individual segments out into a pan catching all the juice. When all segments are removed squeeze the rest of the juice out of the orange into the pan. Add the sugar and rapidly boil for 3 mins. Leave to cool.

When the dough has doubled in size, tip the dough out onto a floured surface and knock the air out of it. Start to roll the dough into a large sausage shape, cut in half and half again until you have 12 pieces of dough.

Roll the individual pieces of dough between the work surface and your palm to create perfect balls of dough.

Cover a large baking tray with greaseproof paper and place the balls of dough fairly close to each other so as they rise again they touch each other.

Cover the tray with cling film and leave to prove for a 2nd time in a warm place until doubled in size again.

In a bowl mix flour and water until it becomes a thick batter and place in a piping bag. Snip the end off and pipe the crosses, I like to start from the work surface and pipe continuous lines over them all like a noughts and crosses board.

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Bake in a preheated oven at 160c gm 5 for 20-25 mins

When baked and browned on top brush the buns with the sticky orange glaze and leave to cool on a wire rack.

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I hope you all have a chocolatey Easter!! 🙂

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S’mores Brownies (chocolate marshmallow)

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This recipe is not one for the faint hearted! Very calorific but very worth it! 🙂 it’s based on the American pop tart variety s’mores. Which is filled with melted chocolate and marshmallow. Enough said.
All it took was a mention of brownies from my friend and that was it, these s’mores brownies were born! They have a buttery biscuit base with gooey chocolate brownie with chocolate chunks and almond pieces topped with toasted marshmallow 🙂 enjoy 🙂

Ingredients

Biscuit Base

160g digestive biscuits
30g melted butter
2 tbsp caster sugar

Brownie

150g dark chocolate (70% cocoa)
130g milk chocolate
280g unsalted butter
3 eggs
280g caster sugar
125g plain flour
40g cocoa powder
85g milk chocolate (broken into pieces)
85g white chocolate (broken into pieces)
50g dark chocolate (broken into pieces)
50g almonds (broken into pieces)
Almonds optional and other nuts can be used.

Toasted marshmallow top

100g white marshmallows

Method

Line a 23cm square baking tin and grease well. Preheat oven to 180c/gm4.

Smash the biscuits until they resemble breadcrumbs, this can be done in a food processor but a great job for kids or friends that linger in the kitchen!

Combine the melted butter, sugar and biscuits in a bowl until well combined.

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Place the biscuit mix into the baking tin and press down with a spatula, trying to make sure it’s even in the tin.

Bake in the oven for 20 mins until golden brown.

While the base is cooking, melt the dark and milk chocolate together with the butter in a bowl over a pan of simmering water, making sure not to let the water touch the bottom of the bowl! Then leave to cool slightly.

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(I had to improvise with a pirex baking dish as I didn’t have a glass bowl!)

In a separate bowl whisk the eggs and sugar until pale and frothy and add the cooled melted chocolate and gently mix together

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Sift in the flour and cocoa powder and gently combine. When mixed add the broken mixed chocolate and almonds.

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Pour the brownie mixture ontop of the cooled biscuit base, I decorated with white chocolate buttons but its not really needed as the marshmallow will cover the brownie.

Bake in the oven for 40-50 mins depending on how gooey you like your brownies!

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Yoshi’s back in the kitchen with Kay unfortunately this is most definitely not doggy friendly!!!

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When baked cover the top of the brownie with marshmallows and place under a medium low grill to melt and toast slightly, this does not take long so keep an eye on it!

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This can be very difficult to cut so as tempting as it is leave to cool completely and gently cut with a serrated knife.

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Although very sickly these are absolute heaven! Even better if slightly warmed in the microwave! But make sure you cut them small as you can always go back for more!

Happy baking 🙂

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Chilli con carne/chilli beef tacos winter warmer :)

It’s the start of the year, it’s cold, dark and depressing! So I decided to make some chilli to warm everyone up! This recipe doubles as chilli beef tacos all you need to do is reduce it longer to create a thicker sauce. (Also, I leave out the beans for tacos!)

You will need

500g lean mince beef
2 cans plum tomatoes
2 beef stock cubes
4 onions
4 garlic cloves
1tsp ground corriander
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2tsp ground chilli powder
2tsp smoked paprika
1tsp paprika
2tsp mixed herbs
Salt and pepper
Can of red kidney beans (chilli con carne version)

To serve
Plain boiled rice (90g rice per person)
Or
12 taco shells

Method

  • Brown the mince in a hot saucepan, no oil needed, tip away any excess fat.
  • Add chopped onions and garlic, I like to use a garlic crusher, it saves so much time in the kitchen as you don’t need to peel the garlic! Just pop it in and crush! It’s my ‘can’t live without’ kitchen tool.

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  • Next, add the beef stock cubes and all of the dry herbs and spices and mix well over heat for 1-2 minutes, careful not to burn the spices!

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  • Lastly add the plum tomatoes and a can of water, break up the tomatoes in the pan with a wooden spoon, leave to simmer for at least an hour.

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For chilli

  • Add the kidney beans after the tomatoes and water and leave to simmer in the sauce.
  • For me, I usually simmer for around 1 hour to create a nice ooozy sauce to pour over hot rice

For tacos

  • Leave the beans out if the mix, and simmer for around 1 1/2 hours until the sauce is almost dry, being careful not to burn it!
  • Serve in warm taco shells with lettuce and cheese 🙂

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